So, how long does it take to produce fruit anyway?
by Lisa Brittain
As an Atlanta suburbanite, I was curious. I was curious about growing my own tomatoes. Home grown tomatoes taste so much better than grocery store tomatoes.
I was curious. Could it really be that hard? I googled and YouTubed it… How to grow tomatoes in your back yard. The instructions seemed easy enough. Tomato plants like hot weather and should only be watered once a week. Do not over-water!
Well, ok, we live in the south where summers are usually pretty hot, and I usually have a difficult time remembering to water any plant so I should be able to grow tomatoes…yummy tasting tomatoes right in my back yard! All I needed was a few tomato plants.
I told my Dad about my great tomato adventure, and he offered me three of his “leftover” plants he had grown from seed during the winter. My parents are excellent gardeners. They have many tomato plants each year and grow enough tomatoes to keep their entire neighborhood stocked, along with our family and all of our neighbors, and still have plenty to eat and can for later.
In other words, I should be genetically wired to grow tomatoes… a harvest, right?
Well, guess what, growing tomatoes is a lot harder than it seems. Oh, the plants grew in our backyard. The plants thrived in the hot summer and I was faithful to water our plants once a week. I chose a day of the week, and set my calendar to remind me – “water the tomato plants!” Every day I poured a cup of coffee and walked outside to check on the plants… to identify growth. I used sticks to prop up the plants, but quickly figured out the sticks were useful to measure the height of the plants.
After about two weeks of considerable growth, I inspected the tomato plants each day for signs of blooms. Day after day I walked back inside our house to report, “No sign of blooms yet," to which my husband would say, “Give it time. It takes time. Patience!”
I talked to our tomato plants, I rubbed their leaves, and yes, I even prayed over them and blessed each plant to grow big and strong to create luscious red fruit!
Finally, the day came, about four weeks into my great tomato adventure…”Blooms! Come look, honey!! I have blooms!!!” Blooms became tiny tomato buds and clusters of 4 to 6 baby tomatoes. It was happening…and I just knew I was about to have an explosion of bright red tomatoes to put on my salad and share with all my neighbors. Ready and anxious, I daily inspected and expected to be able to pick tomatoes.
So, exactly how long does it take to produce fruit? Too long, I tell you!
After six weeks or so, a cluster of cherry tomatoes began to turn pink. Ok, now we’re getting somewhere. And yet, day after day I inspected and expected to be able to pick a cluster of bright red tomatoes for myself and at the very least make a salad.
Finally, on one particularly glorious morning I spotted a single bright red tomato gleaming in the sunshine. I picked it, and more curious than ever, I popped it right into my mouth and ate it. Oh, it was so good! So juicy! So rich in flavor! THE best tomato I have ever eaten because it was a tomato in which I had fully invested time and energy and anticipation.
Summer came and went, and I did not have a tomato harvest from my great tomato adventure. Delightfully though, I was able to grow and enjoy a couple scrumptious red ripe cherry tomatoes a couple times a week until fall arrived.
This scripture passage from Galatians came to mind often during my one and only (so far) farming season.
But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! Galatians 5:22-23 NLT
More than the ability to grow tomatoes and produce a harvest for my neighbors and self, I desire spiritual growth and maturity for producing a harvest of righteousness. Just as I researched the instructions for growing tomatoes, I want to read God’s Word (chew on the Word) meditating on it daily, to find out how to grow these priceless fruits of the Spirit.
Additionally, I want to talk to my Heavenly Daddy about my desire for a great spiritual fruit producing adventure just as I talked with my flesh and blood Dad about growing tomatoes. God’s promise to us, His children, is that when we call upon Him, He will hear us and answer us. And not just recite the basics, but teach us great and unsearchable things we have not known. (Jeremiah 33:3)
As women we are keenly aware, talking and listening are natural aspects of a healthy and intimate relationship. Journaling my conversations with my Father helps me to remember the Truth I’m learning through a particular mile marker on my faith journey. My written notes are to me like the stakes I used to measure the growth of my tomato plants.
As I walk further with Jesus I understand more clearly in living color, the journey matters. It is the journey which creates all the important ingredients for growing the crop. The journey is useful in preparing the soil of my heart and receiving the seed. The journey provides the right amount of sunshine, rain, and fertilizer necessary to produce the fruit and bring forth a harvest in the Spirit.
So, yes, I want to grow. I want my life to produce good fruit. According to the instructions in Galatians 5, if we walk by the Spirit (filled with the Spirit of God) we will deny the flesh because the Spirit and the flesh are opposed to one another. Later in Galatians 5, we are encouraged to know that if we belong to Christ our flesh has indeed been crucified.
Growing fruit is not as easy as it sounds, and the crop does not come in as quickly as we would hope. The harvest may not be as visibly obvious or tangible or quantifiable as we would like, but God is faithful. He will meet our desire to grow with His all-powerful desire to help us grow.
Our Father will give us every resource and tool we need. Best of all He gives us Himself in His Spirit and as we yield our lives (the soil of our hearts) to Him, we find that Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self-control are blooming in us.
So, Lord Jesus, I thank You that You hear our heart’s desire, and You will create in our hearts “good soil” essential for the growth of the Spirit’s fruit, and You will teach us how to produce a great harvest for Your Glory!
“But the seed planted in the good earth represents those who hear the Word, embrace it, and produce a harvest beyond their wildest dreams.”
Mark 4:20 MSG
Lisa Brittain is an avid follower of Jesus. Her passion is taking women by the hand and introducing them to intimate relationship with Jesus in prayer and discipleship. Also, she is married to Randy. They are empty-nesters except for their 3 rescue pups – Nole, Liberty and Victor. You can see more of Lisa's writings on her blog: eyesonjesusandshine.wordpress.com